It’s almost impossible to predict the FIA Formula 3 season with a whole new crop of rookies coming from different championships and five of last years top six having moved on to Formula. But we still tried! Here’s how we see it.
Who will win the drivers’ championship, and who’ll be involved in the title fight?
Floris Visman: No less than thirty drivers and sixteen rookies. FIA F3 is unpredictable as always and that makes it exciting. last year Prema was the team to beat and they seem to have an exciting lineup again. Two of them are important title candidates, I think: Oscar Piastri (the reigning FR Eurocup champion) and Frederik Vesti, who dominated Formula Regional EU last season.
Outsiders to me are new team mates at ART Liam Lawson and Max Fewtrell. Both are in their second year and both have shown a lot of promise. The Renault & Red Bull Juniors will do everything in their power to impress the F1 teams they are contracted to.
Adam Dickinson: The Dane Frederik Vesti dominated in his rookie European Formula Regional season last year, winning over half the races, and I think he can continue that form to 2020.
Igor Fraga finished third to Vesti in that championship (taking four wins), won Toyota Racing Series earlier this year and looks a real dark horse. He’s a bit streaky but if he starts well he could be the real deal.
His TRS rival Liam Lawson had an underwhelming first season in FIA F3 but it’ll be interesting to see if he can deliver a bounce-back year. He’s got an impressive record with championship wins and podium finishes across several series so he has the calibre.
Jake Hughes is the highest placed finisher from last season that’s returned this year, and if he can sort out retirements – he suffered one from pole and four total – he’ll be a challenger.
Jeroen Demmendaal: I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a hardcore FIA F3 expert, but at first sight, it seems like Hitech has the ultimate package of drivers with second-year runner Max Fewtrell and rough diamonds Liam Lawson and Dennis Hauger. And putting on the orange goggles for a moment: dare we hope that this is the season where Richard Verschoor finally breaks through? Frederik Vesti seems to be another obvious title candidate, with the might of Prema behind him.
Who will be the surprise package?
FV: Dutchman Richard Verschoor had a pretty unremarkable season in FIA F3 with MP Motorsport last year. The ex-Red Bull Junior however gained speed towards the end of the season and had the highlight of his junior career, winning the Macau GP. If he shows that speed and determination from the first race of the season, he might raise a few eyebrows – in a good way.
AD: Would David Schumacher be a surprise? He took four wins and five poles last season in Formula Regional Euro but lacked consistency compared to his rivals. I don’t think he’ll mount a title challenge but could be good for some big results over the season.
And Theo Pourchaire has every chance of putting a good campaign together, he’s only 16 so has chance to grow and won ADAC F4 last season against the more-fancied Dennis Hauger.
JD: Not sure what classifies as a surprise at this level, since everyone is here to try and impress. But while a lot of (Dutch) race fans are aware of Verschoor by now, especially since his Macau win, it seems like Bent Viscaal has been flying under the radar somewhat. As a sophomore driver, he knows the car and tracks, which should help him to grow as a driver and turn some heads this year.
Which rookie will have the best season?
FV: Honestly, there’s only one rookie battle I’m truly focussing on and it’s not between team mates. Dennis Hauger and Theo Pourchaire had countless intense battles in ADAC F4. In the end Pourchaire took the title, but their rivalry is what stood out that season. I’m hoping they can take that into the FIA F3 season. If they do they will push each other to new heights.
AD: Vesti is the obvious one, I’ve already made him my pick for the title. 6 of the top 7 from EU Formula Regional 2019 have been promoted so there’s a strong rookie class, and it will be interesting to see who hits the ground running from that.
Fraga will shine if he makes a strong start, whilst Enzo Fittipaldi was the opposite last season – he was consistent if not spectacular but ended up beating his compatriot. And having backed Piastri as a title contender I can’t leave him out here.
JD: Hard to say really, since there are so many rookies, but there are plenty of drivers of whom I am curious to see whether they can continue to develop as fast as they have. Theo Pourchaire and Jack Doohan offer a lot of promise, as do Matteo Nannini and Enzo Fittipaldi. Plus, it will be very interesting to see how Sophia Flörsch stacks up in this field.
Who will win the Teams’ Championship?
FV: Looking at last year this should be an easy one for Prema. They finished with over twice the amount of points runners up Hitech did. But that might also be because they adapted quicker to the new championship. I’m expecting Hitech to at least be way closer this season. Their lineup with Lawson, Fewtrell and Hauger is also an exciting one.
AD: I like the look of Prema, with two reigning champions in Vesti and Piastri and Logan Sargeant entering his second year in the championship they’ve got the strongest lineup for me. I’ll echo Floris’ thoughts on Hitech though, I think their lineup has a lot of potential but as yet unproven.
HWA could be a dark horse as well, Fittipaldi finished second in EU Formula Regional, he only took two wins but was very consistent which bodes well. And he’s joined by Hughes who could well make 2020 his breakthrough year.
With Fraga and Schumacher, Charouz also have lots of potential.
JD: At this level a teams championship feels like an afterthought to me, to be honest. My attention is more focused on individual drivers. Having said that, I am pretty sure Prema won’t have it as easy this year as they did in 2019. Again, the Hitech line-up looks pretty damn good to me, so I will stick with them.